10 Things To Know About Mauritius Before Visiting
These interesting facts will make you more familiar with the island.
Mauritius is known for its beautiful beaches and grand landscape that attracts tourists from far and wide. I mean we've all seen the instagram photos, who wouldn't want a piece of that attraction after that?! Well, I'm here to give you 10 facts about Mauritius to make you feel more familiar with this beautiful island before visiting.
1. Visa On Arrival
This is a big deal for travel enthusiasts from countries with "weak passports", to not have to worry about visa application before being able to visit a picturesque island such as Mauritius. The best part is that visa is free too! Countries like Nigeria and Madagascar have the shortest visa validity period of two weeks, while countries like Burkina Faso and Cameroon have longer validity periods of sixty days. Ghana, Cape Verde, Canada, are among the many who don't require a visa to visit Mauritius. Iraq and North Korea, however, are among the few countries who need to apply for visa before arrival. I mean, the list goes on, and you can check for your country's requirements through the Mauritian government's website.
2. Best Deals Are In Duty Free Mauritius
Every airport has a duty free section. These retail outlets sell goods that are exempted from the payment of certain local or national taxes and duties, therefore being cheaper than what you get in regular retail stores. Whether it's a bottle of perfume or expensive alcohol brands, duty free offers some of the best bargains! A friend, Kevin (@oreikja), an avid traveler, got bottles of expensive whiskeys, champagnes, etc from duty free in Mauritius for 20-40% off market price. My mum, also another avid traveler, doesn't spare the wallet when it comes to purchasing bottles of expensive perfumes from duty free, because of how affordable they are. So, before you step out of the airport, check out the duty free section and get items for yourself, or gifts for friends and family.
3. Drive On The Left Side, Steering On The Right
A small percentage of the world population drives on the left (the steering located on the right), and the countries that do are mostly old British colonies, which Mauritius was. It stems from the feudal era, where majority of swordsmen found it easier to keep to the left in order to have their right arm (strong arm) closer to an opponent. This translated into driving. If you come from a country like Nigeria, or USA, where people drive on the right, it will certainly take you eons to adjust to the gear being on the left, and also be a bit tricky to grasp navigation especially when you get to a roundabout. Don't be alarmed though, there are hacks for this - drive slowly, or be driven. I remember my first experience driving in Mauritius, and the number of times i apologized to panicking drivers in incoming vehicles for facing them head-on! What an experience, man. Now, I'm a pro-blem still (got you there, didn't I?), because i continuously activate the wiper instead of the turn signal, and then wiper liquid squirts on the screen, and blocks my vision, then I panic and slam the brakes. Yikes!
Oh, another thing about driving here is that many of the roads are tighter than leggings, and speed limit for most roads are about 60km/h. There are speed cameras installed everywhere, so watch out. A speeding fine is RS 5,000 ($125 | NGN 47,000), which increases by the same amount for each day you miss the payment deadline.
Also interesting to note is that you can rent a car with your country's drivers licence. They are lenient.
4. English And French Are The Main Languages
Mauritians communicate with each other in Mauritian Creole or Morisien (formerly Morisyen), which is French Patois. However, they communicate in French and English fluently with tourists. The ones who don't speak English smile in embarrassment, and will usually signal to their friends to come over to assist. I like the moments when the English speaking friend translates to the main guy, and he goes "uhnnnnn (ohhhh)" and smiles even bigger before assisting you.
5. It's A Safe Country
I talked about this in my previous post titled Relocate To Mauritius In Weeks! but to give an overview it is one of the highly ranked safest countries in the world especially for tourists, and the most the Police have to deal with is domestic violence. Go check it out.
6. Facebook Is King
Facebook remains the biggest social media platform in the world with 2.45 billion users active monthly users, however, I only use it to remind me of friends' birthdays. Similarly, many people around me consider it to be outdated, reserved for uncles and aunties who post random life quotes. LOL. This is not the case for Mauritius, because the people use Facebook more enterprisingly, almost turning it into a full fledged e-commerce platform. I remember asking someone recently for where i can get an ND filter for my camera lens, and we both chorused "Facebook', because that is the answer I have been getting every time i ask a different person for a different item. Surprisingly, everything I searched for by adding "in Mauritius" at the end always brought out useful information. These businesses don't bother about building websites, Facebook is sufficient. Why fix what isn't broken, right?!
7. There Is More To The Island Than Its Beaches
When people talk about Mauritius, they mostly share stories about its sapphire blue ocean, and white sand beaches. However, the events that make up Mauritius are as fascinating as the Disney collection of story books we read growing up. For one, Mauritius was the only known habitat of the Dodo - a giant sized flightless bird, now extinct, but remains the national bird of the country. Secondly, Mauritius comprises a combination of islands which include the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Cargados Carajos Shoals (or Saint Brandon), and the Agalega Islands. Thirdly, its world's third largest coral reef protects the Lagoons from the open sea, and keeps out sharks and Jelly Fish. Fourthly, Sugarcane is the most important crop grown within Mauritius and accounted for close to 70% of the nation's cultivated land in 2001.
Also, in the 18th century, escaped slaves sought refuge in the iconic Le Morne Brabant mountain, and lived there for many years. However, on sighting soldiers, who came to inform them of their liberation, many decided to jump to their death, as they thought they were being recaptured, which they considered worse than ending their lives. You can find even more facts on google, or should I say, Facebook!
8. Reverse Seasons
This is also another topic i broke down in my last post titled Relocate To Mauritius In Weeks! In summary, Mauritius has only two seasons - winter and summer, which don't follow the seasonal calendar the world is familiar with. The calendar the world is familiar with shows winter is in December, spring in March, summer in June, and fall (autumn) in September. Mauritius is the reverse with winter in June, and summer in November.
It was fascinating for me when I moved here, and so i literally googled "why is mauritius winter not in december", and a blog i read from another travel website answered my question sort of. It read "because Mauritius is not far from the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun is at its highest point longer than in other destinations around the globe. This is why Mauritius benefits from many hours of bright sunny skies all year round." Now you know why this island is one of the best tourists attractions.
9. Religion and Sexuality
This is an interesting oxymoron for the simple fact both topics brew a lot of debate, and clash more often than not. However, in order not to stir the pot, I will address both topics as if they never met. For religion, the big three in Mauritius are Hindus, Roman Catholic Christians, and Muslims in descending order. Other religions are Buddhism, other forms of Christianity, etc. In Mauritius, Hindu temples can be spotted in strategic corners of almost every street, similar to the way Redeemed Christian churches are in Nigeria. These Hindu temples are beautiful, colorful, and quite sizable too, which makes sense being that the population is mostly Hindu. Now, for sexuality, this is quite interesting because the norm is to be straight, although same-sex relationships are not recognized in Mauritius, its Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to a private life. Meaning the LGBT group are protected from discrimination making it one of the few African countries to have such protections for LGBT people. One thing for sure that is banned by the laws of the country is sodomy (opposite-sex and same-sex anal and oral sex).
10. Stray Dogs
I have never seen so many stray dogs in my entire life up until moving to Mauritius! They can be spotted on almost every street in packs of an average of 4, and if it was left to me they'd all pay taxes. These canines come in different breeds, sizes, and definitely different temperaments, but from my experiences they don't bite. They might chase you (maybe a little more than "might"), but they won't bite. My first experience being chased by a pack of dogs rattled me - I was riding on my wide-tire electric scooter in the evening, up a hill (electric scooters don't accelerate well on hills) by the sugarcane field in Flic en Flac, when i saw a pack of 4 dogs doing drugs. I see them see me see them, and as soon as i zipped past they all started chasing me, and barking viciously with saliva splashing from their mouths. They were catching up to the scooter which was struggling to accelerate up the hill, and I thought to myself "damn, so are these dogs really gonna have me for dinner?!" But lo and behold, as soon as they caught up to me they just stopped chasing and barking, and almost immediately turn around laughing, wagging their tails, and high-pawing each other, recounting the highlight "did you see the fear on that dude's face? It was epic!". I was so spooked that for the longest time I didn't pass that route.
Apparently, the situation is out of control and a nonprofit animal organization known as PAWS is trying to clean up these dogs, and put them up for adoption. If you would like to donate to them, kindly contact them here.
Its A Wrap!
I hope this post informed and entertained you, if it did, kindly subscribe to the blog to get notified on new content. Also, if you wish to visit Mauritius, then you need to check out our Mauritius Tour Packages.
With that being said, I'll see you in the next post.